Seasonal flu, Coronavirus and other viral respiratory infections are the most common infectious diseases in the world in terms of the number of people affected.
Despite any concerted effort made to combat their causative agents, these diseases have not been completely eradicated yet.
Thousands of people die from the complications caused by viral respiratory infections. This is due to the fact that viruses are capable of mutating – changing their structure – and re-infecting the person, whose immune response to the new virus strain has not been formed.
Who’s at Increased Risk?
Due to the lack of the immune response children are at higher risk of being infected. Older people and people with certain health conditions have a higher risk for severe complications if they contact the virus because their immune system is weakened by pre-existing conditions such as lung diseases and asthma, certain heart and immune system conditions, cancer, etc.
The Groups of People at Higher Risk Include:
- People who are 60 or older
- pre-existing conditions such as lung diseases and asthma such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- People with certain heart conditions: congenital heart disorder, coronary heart disease, cardiac decompensation
- Pregnant women
- Medical staff
- Public transport and catering industry workers
How the Contagion Spreads
Viruses can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets that move through the air when you cough or sneeze. The viral material hangs out in these droplets and can be breathed into the respiratory tract, where the virus can then lead to an infection. Another way is through direct body contact.
Depending on the particular disease agent type there can be a variety of symptoms, the most common of which include:
- Chills, fatigue, headache, body aches
- Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
- Sore eyes
The average length of the disease is 5 days. If you have fever longer than this period, the complications might have occurred.
- Encephalitis, meningitis
- Pregnancy complications, fetus defects
- Chronic disease recurrence
The treatment is administered by doctors. On examining patients, doctors work out the therapeutic sequence and set the treatment code individually for each patient. Patients should have bed rest, eat nutrient-enriched food and drink a lot of water.
You shouldn’t take any antibiotic medications within the first days of the disease as they do not combat viruses but can have a negative effect on your microflora. Antibiotics can be prescribed only by a doctor in case of concurrent bacterial infection. You mustn’t take antibiotic medications for the disease complications prevention either – it can pose threat to your health.
The diseased person must not go out. Following social distancing guidelines will not expose other people to the danger of being infected.
The most effective measure to prevent flu is vaccination against influenza. New versions of the vaccines are developed annually. Vaccination is recommended to those who are at high risk of flu complications. The ideal time for vaccination is October-November. Children can be given flu vaccines starting from 6 months of age.
Vaccines against most acute respiratory viral infections have not been developed, though.
The best way to prevent the spread of infection is to avoid or limit contact with people who are showing symptoms of any respiratory infection. But also, be sure to:
- Practice good hygiene, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
- Keep away from people who are coughing and sneezing
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle (enough of sleep, healthy food, regular physical activity)
- Drink a lot of water
- Air your room at regular intervals and maintain the recommended humidity indoors
- Practice social distancing, try to avoid being in crowds
- Use a face mask in public places
- Avoid handshakes, kissing, hugging
- Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth when your hands are dirty
If you feel the first symptoms of the viral infection, consult your doctor.